Phylogenetic Relations Between Microbats, Megabats and Primates (Mammalia: Chiroptera and Primates)

J. D. Pettigrew, B. G. M. Jamieson, S. K. Robson, L. S. Hall, K. I. McAnally, H. M. Cooper

Abstract

We examine the paraphylectic hypothesis of bat origins, both in the light of previous discussions, and in the light of new evidence from our analyses of neurological traits and wing morphology. Megabats share with primates a variety of complex details in the organization of neural pathways that have not been found in any other mammalian group, particularly not in microbats. The features previously used to link microbats and megabats have been examined and found to be questionable bases for support of a monophyletic origin. In particular, morphological analyses of the musculoskeletal adaptations associated with the flight apparatus are consistent with two separate origins of the mammalian wing. Taken together, these analyses suggest that megabats evolved from an early branch of the primate lineage. This branch was comprised of moderate-sized, phytophagous gliders, of which the other living descendants are the dermopterans. Microbats, in contrast, probably evolved much earlier from small, agile insectivores whose forelimbs had long metacarpals in relation to their phalanges.

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